"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
 

Four Days To Christmas: Winter Solstice

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

“The stars glimmer in the solstice dark, their faint light mirrored in glints off the crusted snow. Far below these blanketed fields, deep beneath the bedrock, a lustrous power slumbers, fitfully, like a bear in its cave. The resplendence it carries by day is now subdued and smoldering — a slow burn, crackling within its hearth at the heart of the Earth. As this power sleeps, it dreams. The dreams roil and flicker and seethe, curling back upon themselves and sometimes flaring, scorching the walls and scattering sparks. A few sparks embed themselves like seeds in the enfolding dark, others wink out and vanish….”

From “Forever’s Start” in Miracle on 10th Street and Other Christmas Writings by Madeleine L’Engle:

“The days are growing noticeably shorter; the nights are longer, deeper, colder. Today the sun did not rise as high in the sky as it did yesterday. Tomorrow it will be still lower. At the winter solstice the sun will go below the horizon, below the dark. The sun does die. And then, to our amazement, the Son will rise again.”







Five Days To Christmas: When Nature Does the Decorating

From “Christmas Festivities” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“Who can be insensible to the outpourings of good feeling, and the honest interchange of affectionate attachment, which abound at this season of the year? A Christmas family party! We know nothing in nature more delightful! There seems a magic in the very name of Christmas. Petty jealousies and discords are forgotten: social feelings are awakened in bosoms to which they have long been strangers; father and son, or brother and sister, who have met and passed with averted gaze, or a look of cold recognition for months before, proffer and return the cordial embrace, and bury their past animosities in their present happiness. Kindly hearts that have yearned towards each other but have been withheld by false notions of pride and self-dignity, are again united, and all is kindness and benevolence!

“Would that Christmas lasted the whole year through, and that the prejudices and passions which deform our better nature were never called into action among those to whom, at least, they should ever be strangers.”







Six Days To Christmas: Silver and Gold

From A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd:

“It was now the second week of December and all the stores in town stayed open nights, which meant that things were really getting serious. Every evening immediately after supper we would pile into the car and drive downtown for that great annual folk rite, that most ecstatic, golden, tinseled, quivering time of all kidhood: Christmas shopping. Milling crowds of blue-jowled, agate-eyed foundry workers, gray-faced refinery men, and motley hordes of open-hearth, slag-heap, Bessemer-converter, tin-mill, coke-plant, and welding-shop fugitives trudged through the wildly pulsing department stores, through floor after floor of shiny, beautiful, unattainable treasures, trailed by millions of leatherette-jacketed, high-topped, mufflered kids, each with a gnawing hunger to Get It All. Worried-looking, flush-faced mothers wearing frayed cloth coats with ratty fox-fur collars, their hands chapped and raw from years of dish-water therapy, rode herd on the surging mob, ranging far and wide into the aisles and under the counters, cuffing, slapping, dragging whiners of all sizes from department to department.

“At the far end of Toyland in Goldblatt’s, on a snowy throne framed with red-and-white candy canes under a suspended squadron of plastic angels blowing silver trumpets in a glowing golden grotto, sat the Man, the Connection: Santa Claus himself.”

From “A Christmas Carol” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore … though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”






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